“at the sixth hour of the day.” The eclipse meant is, presumably, that of the Crucifixion (so Origen, contra Celsum,, ii. 33 [but see in Matt. 134, Delarue iii. 922], Eusebius’s Chronicle Tib. 19 [= A.D. 33], Anon, in Cramer’s Catena in Matt. p. 237), but as the notice of it was clearly derived by Phlegon, pagan as he was, directly or indirectly from the Gospel narrative, there is no reason at all to ascribe any independent value to the date. Phlegon may have had grounds for dating the Bithynian earthquake in that year, and have brought the dateless portent into connexion with the dated one. Eusebius adopted and popularized this date, which fell in with his own system of Gospel chronology, but of the year 33 as the date of the Passion there is no vestige in Christian tradition before the 4th century.
The only date, in fact, which has any real claim to represent Christian tradition independent of the Gospels, is the year 29. Tiberius 15 is given by Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 147; Origen, Hom. in Jerem. xiv. 13; cf. c. Cels. iv. 22. Tiberius 16 by Julius Africanus (Routh, Rell. Sacr. ii. 301-304), and pseudo-Cyprian de pascha computus (A.D. 243), § 20. The consulship of the two Gemini by Lactantius, Div. Inst. iv. x. 18, and (Lactantius?) de morte pers. § 2; the consulship of the two Gemini = Tiberius 18 by Hippolytus, Comm. in Danielem, iv. (ed. Bonwetsch, p. 242); the consulship of the two Gemini = Tiberius 15 by [Tertullian] adv. Judaeos, § 8; the consulship of the two Gemini = Tiberius 15 (al. 18 or 19) = Ol. 202.4 [this last is a later interpolation from Eusebius] in the Acts of Pilate. Other methods of expressing the year 29 appear in Hippolytus’s Paschal Cycle and Chronicle, and in the Abgar legend (ap. Eusebius, H.E. i. 13). No doubt it would be possible to explain Tiberius 16 as a combination of Luke iii. 1 with a one-year ministry, and even to treat Tiberius 15 as an unintelligent repetition from St Luke—though the omission to allow a single year for the ministry would be so strange as to be almost unintelligible—but the date by the consuls has an independent look about it, and of its extreme antiquity the evidence gives two indications: (i.) Hippolytus’s Commentary on Daniel (now generally dated c. A.D. 200) combines it with an apparently inconsistent date, Tiberius 18; the latter is clearly his own combination of the length of the ministry (he says in the same passage that Christ suffered in his 33rd year) with Luke iii. 1—the consulship must have been taken from tradition without regard to consistency; (ii.) the names of the Gemini are divergently given in our oldest authorities; in [Tert.] adv. Judaeos correctly as Rubellius Geminus and Fufius (or Rufius) Geminus, but in Hippolytus and the Acts of Pilate as Rufus and Rubellio. But if the tradition of the consulship was thus, it would seem, already an old one about the year 200, there is at least some reason to conclude that trustworthy information in early Christian circles pointed, independently of the Gospels, to the year 29 as that of the Crucifixion.
(f) The Civil Month and Day.—The earliest known calculations, by Basilidian Gnostics, quoted in Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 147, gave alternative dates, Phamenoth 25, Pharmuthi 25, Pharmuthi 19; that is, according to the fixed Alexandrine calendar of B.C. 26, 21st March, 20th April, 14th April; in the older, not wholly superseded, Egyptian calendar the equivalents with Roman days varied from year to year. But in all probability these dates were only one development of those speculations in the region of numbers to which Gnosticism was so prone; and in any case to look for genuine traditions among Egyptian Gnostics, or even in the church of Alexandria, would be to misread the history of Christianity in the 2nd century. Such traditions must be found, if anywhere, in Palestine and Syria, in Asia Minor, in Rome, not in Egypt; within the Church, not among the Gnostics. The date which makes the most obvious claim to satisfy these conditions would be the 25th of March, as given by Hippolytus, [Tert.] adv. Judaeos, and the Acts of Pilate (according to all extant MSS. and versions, but see below), locc. citt.—the same three authorities who bear the earliest witness for the consuls of the year of the Crucifixion—and by many later writers. It cannot be correct, since no full moon occurs near it in any of the possible years; yet it must be very early, too early to be explained with Dr Salmon (Dictionary of Christian Biography, iii. 92Italic textb), as originated by Hippolytus’s Paschal cycle of A.D. 221. Now Epiphanius (Haer. l. 1) had seen copies of the Acts of Pilate in which the day given was not 25th March, but A.D. xv. kal. Apr. (= 18th March); and if this was the primitive form of the tradition, it is easy to see how 25th March could have grown out of it, since the 18th would from comparatively early times, in the East at any rate, have been thought impossible as falling before the equinox, and no substitution would be so natural as that of the day week, Friday, 25th March. But Friday, 18th March, A.D. 29, was one of the three alternative dates for the Crucifixion which on astronomical and calendar grounds were found (see above, 5d) to be possible.
Thus A.D. 29 is the year, the 18th of March is the day, to which Christian tradition (whatever value, whether much or little, be ascribed to it) appears to point. Further, the Baptism was tentatively placed in A.D. 26-27; the length of the ministry was fixed, with some approach to certainty, at between two and three years, and here too the resultant date for the Crucifixion would be the Passover of A.D. 29.
To sum up: the various dates and intervals, to the approximate determination of which this article has been devoted, do not claim separately more than a tentative and probable value. But it is submitted that their harmony and convergence give them some additional claim to acceptance, and at any rate do something to secure each one of them singly—the Nativity in 7-6 B.C., the Baptism in A.D. 26-27, the Crucifixion in A.D. 29—from being to any wide extent in error.
The Chronology of the Apostolic Age.
The chronology of the New Testament outside the Gospels may be defined for the purposes of this article as that of the period between the Crucifixion in A.D. 29 (30) on the one hand, and on the other the persecution of Nero in A.D. 64 and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Of the events in Christian history which fall between these limits it must be admitted that there are many which with our present information we cannot date with exactness. But the book of Acts, our only continuous authority for the period, contains two synchronisms with secular history which can be dated with some pretence to exactness and constitute fixed points by help of which a more or less complete chronology can be constructed for at least the latter half of the apostolic age. These are the death of Herod Agrippa I. (xii. 23) and the replacement of Felix by Festus (xxiv. 27).
1. The death of Herod Agrippa I. This prince, son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, was made (i.) king over the tetrarchy which had been Herod Philip’s, “not many days” after the accession of Gaius, 16th of March A.D. 37; (ii.) ruler of the tetrarchy of Antipas, in A.D. 39-40; (iii.) ruler of the whole of Palestine (with Abilene), on the accession of Claudius at the beginning of A.D. 41. Josephus’s Jewish Wars and Antiquities differ by one in the number of years they allot to his reign over the tetrarchies (the former work says three years, the latter four), but agree in the more important datum that he reigned three years more after the grant from Claudius, which would make the latest limit of his death the spring of A.D. 44. The Antiquities also place his death in the seventh year of his reign, which would be A.D. 43-44. On the other hand, coins whose genuineness there is no apparent reason to doubt are extant of Agrippa’s ninth year; and this can only be reconciled even with A.D. 44 by supposing that he commenced reckoning a second year of his reign on Nisan 1, A.D. 37, so that his ninth would run from Nisan 1, A.D. 44. On the balance of evidence the only year which can possibly reconcile all the data appears to be A.D. 44 after Nisan, so that it will have been at the Passover of that year that St Peter’s arrest and deliverance took place.
After Agrippa’s death Judaea was once more governed by procurators, of whom Cuspius Fadus and Tiberius Alexander ruled from A.D. 44 to 48; the third, Cumanus, was appointed in A.D. 48; and the fourth, Felix, in A.D. 52. Under Tiberius